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If the Objective is Herd Immunity, on Whom Should it be Built?

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  • Christian Gollier

Abstract

Assuming that there is no other solution than herd immunity in front of the current pandemic, on which categories of citizens should we build this herd immunity? Given the fact that young people face a mortality rate which is at least a thousand times smaller than people aged 70 years and more, there is a simple rational to build it on these younger generations. The transfer of some mortality risk to younger people raises dfficult ethical issues. However, none of the familiar moral or operational guidelines (equality of rights, VSL, QALY, ...) that have been used in the Western world over the last century weights the value of young lives 1000 times or more than the lives of the elders. This suggests that Society could offer Covid protection to the elders by conning them as long as this herd immunity has not been attained by the younger generations. This would be a potent demonstration of intergenerational solidarity towards the most vulnerable people in our community. The welfare gain of this age-specic deconfinement strategy is huge, as it can reduce the global death toll by more than 80%.

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  • Christian Gollier, 2020. "If the Objective is Herd Immunity, on Whom Should it be Built?," EconPol Policy Brief 29, ifo Institute - Leibniz Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich.
  • Handle: RePEc:ces:econpb:_29
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    Cited by:

    1. Christian Gollier, 2020. "Cost–benefit analysis of age‐specific deconfinement strategies," Journal of Public Economic Theory, Association for Public Economic Theory, vol. 22(6), pages 1746-1771, December.
    2. James K. Hammitt, 2020. "Valuing mortality risk in the time of COVID-19," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 61(2), pages 129-154, October.
    3. Luiz Brotherhood & Philipp Kircher & Cezar Santos & Michèle Tertilt, 2020. "An Economic Model of the Covid-19 Epidemic: The Importance of Testing and Age-Specific Policies," CESifo Working Paper Series 8316, CESifo.
    4. Guimarães, Luís, 2021. "Antibody tests: They are more important than we thought," Journal of Mathematical Economics, Elsevier, vol. 93(C).
    5. M. Alper Çenesiz & Luís Guimarães, 2022. "COVID‐19: What if immunity wanes?," Canadian Journal of Economics/Revue canadienne d'économique, John Wiley & Sons, vol. 55(S1), pages 626-664, February.
    6. Sandrine Spaeter, 2021. "How to Reconcile Pandemic Business Interruption Risk With Insurance Coverage," Working Papers of BETA 2021-18, Bureau d'Economie Théorique et Appliquée, UDS, Strasbourg.

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